Salient Features of the Indian Constitution


A Constitution is a fundamental document of any country which sets down the principal functions of organs of the Government. The framework of the country, relations between the government and its citizens, the interjections between the government and its citizens, etc. are all listed strictly by this document.

The principality of its existence is very derived from its origination. The document had been framed after repeated examinations by the Constituent Assembly based on the considerations of Government of India Act, 1935. Various provisions from Constitutions from other countries of the world were also considered.

This elaborate document was adopted on 26th November, 1949 but it came into full operation from 26th January, 1950, originally comprising of 22 parts, 395 articles and 8 schedules. Presently, the Constitution constitutes of a Preamble, about 450 Articles which are divided into 24 Parts and 12 Schedules.

All of the features of the Constitution are guided by certain ideals, which include a guarantee of justice, equality and freedom to all citizens, a commitment towards a democratic, sovereign and republic country.[1]

Indian federation is a Union of States but not a result of an agreement by the States. Also, no State has the right to secede from the federation. In India, there are two governments with division of powers but in case of conflicts, the central power supersedes.[2] This is why India is considered as an example of “quasi-federalism”.

The Constitution of India embodies a Parliamentary form of Government, based on the concept of British Parliamentary system i.e., the principle of co-operation and co-ordination between the legislative and executive organs. Under this system, the President acts as the nominal head, who remains in office for a term of five years. He is also known as the Constitutional Head since the Constitution recognises all the executive functions under this position and also vests it with discretionary powers.[3]

In the case of Rai Sahib Ram Jawaya Kapur And Ors. vs The State of Punjab[4], the Supreme Court held that “Our Constitution, though federal in its structure, is modelled on the British Parliamentary system where the executive is deemed to have the primary responsibility for the formulation of governmental policy and its transmission into law though the condition precedent to the exercise of this responsibility is its retaining the confidence of the legislative branch of the State. The executive function comprises both the determination of the policy as well as carrying it into execution.”[5]

It is also derived from the embodiment of the doctrine of Separation of Powers, although is not expressly mentioned under the Indian Constitution, is an essential implication that powers of the three organs of the government viz., Legislative, Executive and Judiciary should be kept separate from each other, and no functions of the other should intervene with the functions of the other. Such a system is in usual terms known as “checks and balances” which one organ does on another but cannot directly impose a duty or restriction.

Constitution of India is also considered as the Lengthiest Constitution in the World debated and duly enacted by the Constituent Assembly after 2 years, 11 months and 18 days. It, as above mentioned, consisted of 395 Articles divided into 22 Parts and 8 Schedules. After several amendments, the Constitution presently is constituted of a Preamble, about 450 Articles divided into 24 Parts and 12 Schedules.

Furthermore, the structure of our Constitution is considered to be Rigid and Flexible i.e, having a unique blend of rigidity and flexibility. There is a requirement of a special procedure for the amendment of the stringent and fundamental laws, and another being a simple procedure that can be amended in the same manner as ordinary laws are made.

For the former, the Bill has to be passed in each house of Parliament by a majority of the total membership of that house and by a majority not less than two-thirds of the members of that house present and voting.[6] For a simple majority, it is only required to be ratified by the legislatures of not less than one-half of the states before being presented to be President for assent.

Part III of the Indian Constitution lists six fundamental rights from Article 14-32 under the Indian Constitution:

  • Right to Equality
  • Right to Freedom
  • Right against Exploitation
  • Right to Freedom of Religion
  • Cultural and Educational Rights
  • Right to Constitutional Remedies

They operate as limitations on the autocracy of the executive and arbitrary laws of the legislature. It is considered as a part of the basic structure and can only be suspended during the times of emergency.

The importance and fundamentalness of the fundamental rights have been upheld by the case of I.R. Coelho (Dead) By Lrs vs State Of Tamil Nadu & Ors[7] stating that “the jurisprudence and development around fundamental rights has made it clear that they are not limited, narrow rights but provide a broad check against the violations or excesses by the State authorities. The fundamental rights have in fact proved to be the most significant constitutional control on the Government, particularly legislative power.”

On a similar light is the feature of the Directive Principles of State Policy(DPSP) under Part IV of the Indian Constitution sets out the aims and objectives to be taken by the state in the governance of the country. But DPSP are not enforceable by the State. They act as mere directives that the State is required to follow. Although in cases of conflicts between DPSP and FRs, the Court is supposed to harmoniously give effect to both the interpretations[8] but in unavoidable circumstances, FRs are considered superior to DPSPs[9].

Fundamental Duties are enlisted under Part IVA under the Indian Constitution has been added by the 42nd amendment. It enumerates ten duties under Article 51A. It has been repeatedly held by the Supreme Court to be given equal importance as the FRs.[10]

Indian Constitution as a matter of freedom of equality guarantees Universal Adult Franchise, which entitles male or female citizens obtained the age of 18 years to vote in elections to Parliament or State Legislature.

In any democracy, judiciary is an essential organ for the impartial adjudication od disputes between individuals, Union/State and individuals, between Union and States or between States inter se. There is a dire need for the judiciary to be independent in order to dissolute these disputes. The Supreme Court of India is the Apex Court of the country and below are High Courts at the State level. This feature allows and bestows the power of “Judicial Review” upon the judiciary.

The Indian Constitution also features to be a secular state and does not uphold any particular religion as the official religion of the State. “Secularism” is a part of the Preamble and was added by the 42nd amendment. The law of India portraying itself a secular nation, hence, guarantees to provide equal status to all religions and does not favor or discriminate against anyone.[11] Every citizen of India further also enjoys single citizenship in the country i.e., every person enjoys the same rights of citizenship no matter in which State he or she resides. There is no concept of double citizenship like other federations.

All of these features in turn work to keep the Constitution as a “living document”, as an instrument which makes the governments function.

[1] https://www.nios.ac.in/media/documents/srsec317newE/317EL5.pdf

[2]  State of Madhya Pradesh v. Union of India

[3] https://law.uok.edu.in/Files/5ce6c765-c013-446c-b6acb9de496f8751/Custom/Powers_and_Functions_of_President_in_India.pdf

[4] AIR 1955 SC 549

[5] Ibid

[6] http://164.100.47.194/Loksabha/Legislation/Legislation.aspx

[7] AIR 2007 SC 861

[8] In Re Kerala Education Bill: AIR 1958 SC 956

[9] The State Of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam 1951 AIR 226

[10] AIIMS Students’ Union v. AIIMS (2002) 1 SCC 428

[11] S.R Bommai v. Union of India1994 AIR 1918

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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